Now that we’re opening a second restaurant, I am looking at everything with fresh eyes. I love the website for Alison at Blue Bell! I especially love the way it reflects the personality of Alison at Blue Bell. When people go to a restaurant – their experience should be consistent with the expectations set by viewing the website. I think our website does that. It’s not overly slick or promotional. I think it reflects the experience you’ll have in the restaurant.
When we first opened, we didn’t have a website. That’s unthinkable now. And in the years since we designed it, the way people use the web has changed. Our needs have changed and I notice that new customers have different needs than our regulars. So, our website it going to be updated too.
Our regulars are willing to book holiday dinners (New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Beer Dinner) before we even publish the menu. We’ve earned their trust over the years and they know we’ll try our hardest to “wow” them. One customer often complains that I make her want to lick her plate clean! I cherish the trusting relationship we’ve built and work hard to continually nurture it.
Newer customers, understandably, want a little more information before they commit. Maybe they are linking from foobooz, Zagat, Gayot, Food & Drinq, aroundphilly.com or read about us in Philly Mag and they visit our site for more information. Right now we’re not putting special event details and menus on the site. We don’t want the homepage to look like a strip shopping center full of signs. But we need to find an attractive way to publish special event information on the site.
Another issue is that special events are promoted first in our email newsletter. Sometimes regulars (who get the email newsletter every 6-8 weeks or so) are booking up events before newbies even hear about them. Events will soon be listed on the website too. (And newbies that want to sign up for the email newsletter can click here to sign up.)
Our website isn’t a simple kit where you just CLICK and add a special events page. It is beautifully designed by Elizabeth Kilroy. Elizabeth originally designed the site so that we could put special events on the homepage linked to the “What’s Going On” section. At the time, we didn’t have many special events – so that section became a repository for our newsletter. To make our site more effective, we’ll be returning to her original idea, of putting events on a somewhat redesigned homepage with links to more information about special events and changing “What’s Going On” to “Newsletter.” That’ll make it easier for everyone to know exactly what is going on. Elizabeth will ensure that we don’t want to lose that quality, that it flows well and is easy to navigate.
Opening a new restaurant is a journey. Updating our website is one more step. Other steps we’re taking this week are interviewing new staff, finally nailing down a date for Beer Week and cooking up some Valentine’s Day surprises….